The ocean provides artists with one of the purest forms of light which is a challenge to capture due to its state of constant flux, reflecting and refracting light as it moves. Chip Hooper speaks about the ocean—and his photographs—in terms of emotion. His work is about more than the physical landscape, it is about the emotive possibilites of the landscape, capturing transient moments when light and water coalesce in transcendent beauty. California's Pacific balances lush, descriptive pieces with minimalist, abstract images in which light and water are the only subjects. In Afternoon, Big Sur, 2003, a delicate bank of clouds casts shadows across the flat, metallic surface of the waves; the atmosphere is one of quiet contemplation. Hooper's images are often imbued with a sense of mystery. In Tide, Pescadero, 2003, an expanse of water is bathed in soft light, but whether it is day or night is uncertain. California's Pacific is an evocative study of the ocean; this first chapter in Chip Hooper's lyrical story of light and water charts a path through diverse emotional terrain, finally leaving us in a state of awe at the natural world.
California's Pacific is the first installment of a series of photographs that Chip Hooper is making of oceans around the world. Over the past two years, he has worked in Iceland and New Zealand.
Hooper felt a kinship with the ocean from a young age; he began making prints at age 12 and constructed a darkroom in the basement of his childhood home. He settled in Carmel Valley, California, in 1988 and became a regular visitor to the coast, lured by the majesty and tranquility of the Pacific Ocean—and by the unique quality of light found there. Through his use of a large-format 8x10 inch view camera, he has embraced the patient and meticulous approach that it demands and has achieved technical mastery of the flawless, highly detailed prints it makes possible. His choice of subject matter links him to artists who have been profoundly inspired by the Pacific Ocean, including Ansel Adams and Minor White. Yet Chip Hooper has developed his unique contemporary vision and in doing so, he has refined the expressive power of landscape photography through his meditative studies of sea and sky.
Chip Hooper was born in Miami in 1962; he was raised in Chicago. His work has been reproduced in ARTnews, reviewed in The New York Times and is in permanent collections at the Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, California; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon; and the Tokyo Photographic Cultural Center, Tokyo, Japan. Among his publications are Chip Hooper: Photographs (1997) and Chip Hooper: California's Pacific (2004). He lives in Carmel Valley, California.